HOW IS MY PARTNER FEELING IN DIFFERENT DAILY-LIFE SETTINGS? ACCURACY OF SPOUSES' JUDGEMENTS ABOUT THEIR PARTNER'S FEELINGS AT WORK AND AT HOME

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

How accurately do spouses know their partner's feelings when the partner is not physically present, but in a specific setting (at work, or at home)? This question addresses a special kind of empathic inference that relies mainly on content knowledge and projection rather than perception. We answered this question using a computer assisted diary approach. A total of 190 husbands and wives out of 95 couples simultaneously recorded how they were feeling and what they thought their partner was feeling, six times each day during an ordinary week. They also recorded where they were, who they were with, and where they thought their partner was. This enabled us to assess measures of accuracy and assumed similarity under natural conditions in spouses' daily lives. Results showed that the spouses' judgements of the absent partner's feelings relied on their own feelings (assumed similarity). Despite this they were often quite accurate, even when assumed similarity was controlled. In general, our findings indicate that spouses have a basic knowledge about their partner's feelings when they are apart. However, the specific situation, the items being judged, and the gender of the spouses also need to be taken into account.

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